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6 reasons to make a Will
- AuthorHannah Howe
By making a Will, you choose who inherits
When you work hard for your assets, you generally want to know where they will go when you die. If you don’t have a Will, then your estate will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules. These are a set of rules laid down by the government many years ago and they state who gets what, in the event that you die without a valid Will.
Many people believe that if you are married then your assets will automatically pass to your spouse or civil partner. This is a common misconception and the reality is that it may not be true. If you are married or in a civil partnership and you also have children, then your spouse will inherit assets up to the value of £270,000, and will also receive all of your personal possessions regardless of their value. If you have assets worth more than this amount, then your spouse will get one half share of everything above £270,000, with the other half going to your children.
If you are not married or in a civil partnership, your assets will pass to your children. If you have no surviving spouse, civil partner, children or grandchildren then there is a prescribed list of relatives who may inherit. This begins with parents, then siblings, then aunts and uncles, then “half” aunts and uncles. If any of these relatives have died, then their children will take their share. If there are no surviving relatives, then the estate could ultimately pass to the Crown.
The bottom line is that if you do not make a Will, then you don’t get to choose who inherits your assets. You might have specific items you want to leave to someone in particular, or you may want to make provision for a stepchild or partner who you are not married to. The intestacy rules do not make any provision for unmarried partners or stepfamilies (see below), but even if you are married with children, you should not assume the rules will distribute your estate in the way you want it to be divided.
Making a Will for the sake of your children
The intestacy rules do not appoint guardians for your children. These are the people with whom your children will live, and who will be responsible for the day to day care of your children if you die before they reach 18. It is very important that you choose the right people to bring up your children, should the worst happen. To ensure you are making the best provision possible for your children, you should include a valid appointment of your chosen guardians in your Will.
The intestacy rules provide for your assets to be held by Trustees until your children reach age 18. You may not want your children to inherit at age 18. Many people feel 18 is too young and would prefer their children not to inherit until they are a bit older. In your Will, you can specify a different age (or ages) for your children to inherit.
If you do not make a Will, you don’t get to choose who acts as Trustees for your children. This is a very important role that includes making decisions about how funds should be invested and whether any money should be advanced to help pay for the maintenance and education of your children. You should ensure you include a valid appointment of suitable Trustees in your Will.
A Will lets you choose your executors and trustees
When you make a Will, you choose who to appoint as your Executors and Trustees. You can select the most appropriate people, those whom you trust and who you feel can handle the legal responsibilities involved in these important roles.
If you do not make a Will, the intestacy rules set out who is entitled to administer your estate. This may not be the people you would choose, and may actually be the last people you would choose! It is important to consider who is suitable to take on this role. If there is no one you feel is suitable, then you can choose to appoint our experienced lawyers to take on the role for you.
The intestacy rules do not cater for modern families
The intestacy rules don’t provide for stepfamilies or partners who cohabit but are not married. This remains the case even if they have lived together for many years. Under the intestacy rules, unmarried partners do not inherit anything and nor do stepchildren.
Persons who have lived together as husband and wife for more than two years are one of the categories of people permitted to make claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. They may be able to make a claim against your estate for reasonable financial provision and, if successful, could end up receiving a share of your estate. Children and stepchildren, and anyone else who is financially dependent on you at your death, can also make a claim against the estate to ensure they are adequately provided for. This can be an expensive and lengthy procedure, and can result in assets of the estate being spent on legal fees rather than on making provision for your loved ones.
It is always worth considering who you want to make provision for and making a Will to that effect, rather than relying on the old intestacy rules or leaving people no choice but to claim in Court. Making a Will is a much cheaper and less stressful option.
Make a Will to protect your pets
If you don’t make a Will, you can’t make provision for what happens to your pets when you die. You should consider who you would want to take care of your pets when you are no longer here, and include this provision in your Will. If there is no one who could take on your pets, you may wish to nominate a charity who could arrange for your pets to be rehomed.
Under the law, pets are considered mere “possessions”, although to their owners they are of course much more than this. Many people want to make sure their pets will go to a good and loving home if they are no longer around to care for their beloved animals. This provision can be included in your Will, and you can also include a gift of a sum of money to help pay for the care of your pets throughout their life.
Make a Will for charities and friends
If you want to leave anything to friends or charities, you will need to make a Will in order to make specific provision for this. If you do not leave a Will, you can’t leave gifts to friends and charities. With no Will, the distribution of your assets will be decided by the intestacy rules, which make provision for specified relatives only, as explained above. If you have a particular cause you care deeply for, or want to leave a gift to a loved friend, you will need to make a Will to ensure your wishes will take effect.
Make a Will with Fishers Solicitors
Here at Fishers Solicitors, we aim to bring you a first-class Will preparation service. Our solicitors are highly qualified specialists, and many hold membership of The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, and Solicitors for the Elderly. This showcases their experience and expertise, and our commitment to the highest standards of client care. Our experts are friendly, approachable and understanding, and can help you make a new Will specifically tailored to your own personal circumstances without any stress or worry.